Review Summary: "I'll imprison your mind, you're held captive inside".
The Occult is a fascinating subject; its association with the darker side of life and its very creation is rooted in mystique. It’s no surprise that for decades it has wormed its way into music, a creative utility for musicians. Throughout the last couple of years, the occult subject matter has crept its way back into music, more so from Scandinavia (e.g Ghost B.C); however there are many bands who play ‘occult’ music or feature occult themes within it. Ancient VVisdom are one of those bands, their debut album was heavily based and influenced by Satanism; now in 2013, Ancient VVisdom are back with their new album Deathlike.
Ancient VVisdom’s sound is simplistic; acoustic guitars, gentle strumming and softly sung vocals with slick melodic hooks with a drop of the 80s/90s. For the most part the music emanates a very folk driven vibe. Ancient VVisdom manages to capture the mysticism, the darkness while creating a fully listenable experience. Instrumentally, Deathlike doesn’t really go through any changes, from the opening track the pace is set; with gentle guitar driven rhythms supported by bombastic drumming, which again, follows a basic 1-2, 1-2 pattern. Although the formula succeeds. There is variation in structure and there are few expansions within the music, whether its thick electric guitars or tambourines. There isn’t a need for blast-beats, grave robbing guitar tones nor howling vocals. What makes Ancient VVisdom and Deathlike special is two things; firstly, simplicity and secondly, the vocals. Vocally, Deathlike is superb; however the vocals may be an acquired taste. The singing is soft, comparable to Magnus of Witchcraft, specifically range wise and even sonically (at times). Furthermore, Nathan Opposition (vocalist) has a 90s grunge tone to his voice, which isn’t always prevalent but very noticeable later on in the album. Opposition can sound nasally at higher notes, whether that is purposeful or not, it may irk some listeners; the key selling point is how melodic and gloomy his voice sounds. It's truly captivating. The music supports his voice well, creating a sense of unity between the two. He manages to create some ridiculously catchy choruses. In fact, nearly every song has a well written chorus which you’ll be singing along to. Although the simplicity is a positive for an album and band such as this, Deathlike’s content can come across same-y and some songs do blend into each other. Moreover, this album is definitely a ‘grower’, it didn’t suck me in upon first listen; it takes a couple of listens (three or four at the most) for the sound-scapes to sink in.
Ancient VVisdom have presented an album that executes their chosen sound very well. Deathlike is the embodiment of mysticism and the darker side of that mysticism, without being cliché or gimmicky. The band manages to create consistently good material, of course there are questionable choices scattered throughout; but Deathlike is so enjoyable that those mistakes or oddities can be forgiven. Ancient VVisdom have presented the end of the world in a cohesive, fleshed out, well-written manner, within their ritual of choice. The question is, will you take part?